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Autumn ‘Soup’ – Messy sensory play for toddlers & pre-schoolers!

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A sensory activity for little learners

Now that my youngest child is getting a little older, I am re-introducing the larger scale messy play activities that Z and I have always enjoyed. This Autumn soup is perfect to try on those slow days when you want to cosy on up inside…

You will need:

  • 500g cornflour
  • Approx 1 litre of cooled boiled water – check the water is completely cool before giving it to little ones to pour. This can sometimes take a while.
  • Food colouring (we used red and yellow to make orange)
  • Nature treasures
  • Kitchen utensils / fine motor tools
  • Large plastic tub
  • small plastic tub (optional)
  • Messy mat
  • Towels
  • Reusable wipes

What to do:

Get the children involved with the set up of the activities as well as the play. Miss 3.8 loves helping out and is far more engaged if she’s been involved from the beginning.

  • Start off by pouring the cornflour into the tub
  • Mix in one cup of water to make a paste then add the food colouring
  • Gradually add in the rest of the water to make an oobleck like substance
  • Add nature treasures
  • Provide kitchen utensils and fine motor tools.

I’ve written a few articles in the past about how to set up properly for messy play which you can read about here.

Key Learning

  • STEAM: the cornflour and water will make an oobleck substance which has properties of both a liquid and solid. This is fun for little ones to experiment and explore.
  • Sensory play: engaging the senses to explore the materials presented.
  • Early Math: this is a good introduction to capacity, especially if extra resources are added like bowls and additional containers.
  • Language development: we talked colours, quantities, textures amongst other things whilst we played.

Age Recommendations

At the time of writing this post, E was 17 months and Z was 3.8 years, both we’re fully engaged in the activity for a good 30 minutes. They played well along side one another which i’m sure prolonged the play.

You could introduced this type of activity between the ages of 12 – 18 months IF your babe has stopped putting everything in their mouths. I am always cautious around raw flour because it can harbour bacteria – it’s the cooking that kills it off. This is mainly why I take the step to use cooled boiled water rather than straight from the tap.

For my youngest, this was a good chance to explore and experiment with the materials on offer. He liked bashing with the spoon and also enjoyed pouring the mix from one container to the other.

With Miss Z, we talked about the amount of ‘soup’ that was needed to fill the smaller container – counting as we went. She was also keen to explore the properties of the mix – it’s been a while since we did oobleck and so she was fascinated with the liquid / solid aspect.

The key to success with any of these activities is to really know where your child is at developmentally. For example, I would not have introduced this activity to E when he was in the tipping and dumping phase a couple of months back because we would’ve ended up with an ooblecky mess on the floor within seconds!

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Sian Thomas

Sian Thomas

Sian is a trained teacher mama to three awesome children and wife to Greg. As a family of expats, they travel the world every couple of years for new adventures. Right now, they live in Vienna, Austria.

One thing Sian is super passionate about? Helping mums worldwide navigate the early years of parenthood.

You can join her on her brand new venture, This Playful Home, by visiting www.thisplayfulhome.com or clicking the email sign up button below!

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